As New Yorkers do their part to combat COVID-19 and find their new normal amid the pandemic, a little holiday spirit and presents from Santa may be just what the doctor ordered.
But parents beware: Like many things this year, the holiday season will be different, and the pandemic’s impact may extend beyond the need to skip holiday travel and have smaller get-togethers.
It may also pose risks to the safety of children’s toys and products.
How COVID-19 May Impact Toy Safety
According to Forbes:
- The e-commerce industry is on pace to grow by nearly 20% this year.
- Over a third of consumers now shop online weekly.
- Half of consumers shop online more than they did before the pandemic.
How consumers shop has also changed. Many have curtailed larger purchases in favor of smaller, less-expensive gifts and millions have turned to websites or brands they did not use prior to the pandemic.
While these trends may mean shipping delays and more consumers looking to get their holiday shopping done early, it also means more parents will be buying their kids' toys online – and, unfortunately, not always from reputable brands or companies.
This, experts say, can increase the risks of parents purchasing counterfeit or dangerous toys.
Fake Toys. Real Problems.
Products sold at retail by legitimate companies – both online and brick-and-mortar – are tested for compliance and are subject to numerous regulations. But that may not be the same for products purchased from unverified sellers.
According to a survey conducted by Wakefield Research and the Toy Association, which is warning parents about the dangers of illegitimate toys this holiday season, fake toys have become a real problem:
- 85% of parents report their children receiving toys they suspect were not purchased from verified sellers, and 48% say it happens regularly.
- 71% of parents express concerns about the safety of toys purchased by grandparents and other older gift-givers who may not know how to ensure a product’s legitimacy, or whether online sellers are verified and reputable.
- 45% of parents report that they would keep a toy even if it was a suspected counterfeit that could be unsafe.
Common Toy Hazards
In addition to counterfeit and imitation toys, there are a number of other potential hazards associated with children’s products, including:
- Lead paint
- Choking hazards
- Batteries and magnets
- Flammable materials
- Long cords
Parents and gift-givers may also want to avoid or reconsider giving gifts listed among the most dangerous toys for children by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), including:
- Non-motorized scooters, tricycles, and other riding toys
- Toys with small balls or parts
- Balloons (choking hazards)
- Non-toy gifts such as BB guns
- Certain arts and crafts supplies
Toy Safety Tips for 2020
So how can parents keep their children safe from potential dangers associated with children’s toys? Here are a few helpful tips:
- Fake Toy Vigilance: Parents should be on the lookout for fake toys. This means avoiding shady sellers online, including third-party sellers and listings on curated online services such as Amazon, Walmart, Offer Up or Let Go, eBay, and others. Do your due diligence to evaluate a seller’s reviews and online presence, and be wary of grammar / spelling errors in listings. When possible, try to purchase your toys from the manufacturer or a reputable, verified retailer.
- Talk to Other Gift Givers: Even though you should inspect any toy your child is gifted, it is a good idea to talk with grandparents and other gift-givers about the importance of choosing age-appropriate toys and toys that are purchased from reputable vendors. Advise them of the risks of counterfeit toys and the need to exercise caution when buying toys at flea markets, garage sales, or second-hand / thrift stores, as these vendors may not monitor for recalled products.
- Check for Recalls: Like other consumer products, children’s toys can be recalled by manufacturers or regulators if they pose potential hazards. Be on the lookout for popular toy recalls in the news, and check online for any recalls or safety concerns associated with toys prior to purchasing or letting your child play with them. You can find recall information on CPSC.gov.
- Check the Age Label: Always choose age-appropriate toys for your children, and always check the age label of toys gifted to your kids by others – over 25% of parents surveyed by the Toy Association say their children have received toys intended for older kids. Toys labeled 3+, for example, may contain small pieces that pose choking hazards for kids who still mouth toys.
- Safe Storage: Always store toys safely when playtime is over in a designated container or bin without hinges or holes that may catch little fingers. Keep toys for older children separate from toys for younger kids, as they may pose risks to curious siblings. You should also periodically sort through toy chests to discard any broken toys.
- Inspect & Instruct: Whether you purchased a toy or are gifted one, always inspect before use. You should also read all instructions for assembly and use and teach your child how to properly use toys by demonstrating and playing with them. Be sure to remove any small parts and dispose of all unnecessary toy packaging and gift wrap to avoid sharp edges that can cause cuts. Always supervise children while they play with toys, new or old.
Child Injuries: Your Rights & Options
Being vigilant and adhering to “best practices” can help parents and gift-givers ensure the children in their lives stay safe. Unfortunately, even the most safety-conscious parents may not be able to spot non-obvious defects associated with some toys or protect their kids against the negligence of others.
At The Perecman Firm, P.L.L.C., our award-winning attorneys focus exclusively on fighting for injured victims, children, and families across New York. To speak with a lawyer about your potential case, contact us for a free consultation.